Digital Marketing for Financial Services – A differentiator is marketing automation.

The Singapore financial scene is highly competitive, hence digital marketing for financial services is a challenge.  For us to understand the level of competition, we can refer to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) financial institutions directory which is open to public. As of 24 July 2017, there are 128 commercial banks (5 local and 123 foreign banks), 420 fund managers, 45 corporate finance advisors, 181 insurers, 39 research houses and so on.

In other words, for every lucrative segment of the market, we have ample competition vying for the same pool of qualified customers. For foreign companies who are seeking to break into the local market as a springboard to capture the wider ASEAN and Asia market, the door is wide open but you would have to differentiate yourself against the sea of competitors. Marketing for Financial Services in Asia is no easy task, especially in Singapore where budgets are limited.

Using marketing automation for marketing for financial services institutions

If you have a solid product and team behind you, the third vital component is to craft an effective message and reach your target audience effectively. According to research by Sirius Decision, marketing automation is lowest in the financial services sector at 4%, compared to 15.5% average across industries.

Marketing automation is the process of automating repetitive marketing activities (from advertisement to email marketing to social media management) so that your institution can reach your clients on multiple channels effectively. Important activities include lead generation, lead scoring, work flow automation and analytics to find out what works.

Inbound automated marketing is often integrated with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to form a scalable environment to deliver effective marketing campaigns and sales enablement. For financial institutions, an automation platform provides the following three areas that would give you the cou the competitive advantage:

1. Optimization

At the very basic level, it means that repetitive tasks can be automated and you will require less staff for your lead nurturing and marketing campaigns. For instance, you have a prospect who filled in a form inquiring about your product. After his question has been answered and he is not ready to purchase yet, the old school method would be to leave him alone.

The optimized method would be nurture this lead through sending automated emails, first with an introductory email, followed by other customized emails which feeds him with value along his buyer journey. Without an automated marketing system, your financial institution would not be able to handle the volume to have a meaningful conversion, especially for a small and medium sized institution.

With an automated marketing system, you can push customized content to your client based on their personality, buying habits, stage of their sales process and so on. You can have an editorial calendar that would publish content automatically on different social media platforms at the right times. Your marketing staff is then free to focus on higher value-added work and reach out to a wider audience

2. Analytics

You can’t improve on something which you can’t measure effectively. If you have a closed case, the important question would be which channel did the lead come from? What is the marketing initiative that resulted in this batch of clients? Do you have a proper sales funnel where you are getting the targeted number of visitors, prospects, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads and so on.

reports measuring marketing automation

Source: Raven Tools

All the major systems such as Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua, Act-On have analytics embedded in them. It would allow you to identify the strength and weakness of your marketing and sales strategy at a glance.

3. Customer Retention

After you have gotten the customer, it is not the end of the road as competition is lurking around the corner. With marketing automation software, you can check out their activities on your website. If your sales people see that your customer has downloaded your whitepaper on Technology ETFs, your sales staff can add value by talking about technology to get your client to reveal more about his interest as part of their regular engagement.

This is a good way to remain relevant to your clients and look for ways to improve your content there. This will stop them from reaching out to another service provider for a solution. Next, customers who regularly download your materials and engage on your social media accounts are priceless to you. They provide social proof and give credibility to your sales pitch. Therefore, you should reach out to them and reward them for their loyalty.

After you have built a strong relationship with them, you can start to ask for favourable testimonial and feedback on social media. Lastly, you can use the same lead nurturing technique to upsell more solutions to them. For instance, they might have purchased a wealth product but you can start to sell insurance or will-writing products to them and rope in the entire family.

Crowded but Still Prosperous

The Singapore market might be crowded but there is a niche for every financial institution who has a solid product and team. We are living in Asia where there is growing demand for financial services as wealth is being created at a record pace. Standard Chartered noted that the liberalisation and deepening of capital markets will result in a much larger financial market in 2025.

The market is indeed competitive but your company can still prosper and thrive with the proper marketing platforms, sales and implementation strategy. There will be some initial cost but it would be worth it and necessary as it allows your company to stand out from the crowd.

For an independent commentary piece on selecting a marketing automation tool from our guest reviewer Jamie Strachan, please click here.

If you are interested also in how to differentiate in a Fintech environment, an example of how marketing automation is used in the ICT sector is illustrated HERE.

Digital Readiness

How a CMO can create more marketing impact with a limited budget


As a CMO of a medium sized financial services company may have limited marketing budget and resources . After you have stood out from the competition, you will have to accept that unlike the larger companies; your marketing efforts have to be targeted and effective with lesser room for errors. One approach of creating such effective marketing strategy is to stand in the shoes of your client’s CFO.

1) Crafting The Right Message
A recent Oracle survey provided a powerful insight into the shifting role of the CFO. In today’s digital world, CFOs place priority in the capturing, measuring and reporting of company’s data in real time. For instance, for 76% of CFOs, customer satisfaction is their top business value priority but only 25% of them are able to capture measures of customer satisfaction effectively.

64% of CFOs put emphasis on the quality of their business process but only 33% have captured sufficient data on it. In such an environment, for your marketing materials to land with your client’s CFO who will be deciding on the facilities provider, it must emphasize the integration with their system (e.g. API), real time data analytics and your relationship with cutting edge technology.

In other words, the key message of your marketing materials would be to help them to identify future priorities and opportunities instead of looking at the rear view mirror. The shift in focus from strict expenditure control (‘bean counters’) to being forward looking reflects the changing customer preferences which financial institutions must grasp.

2) Client Preference For Direct Communication
This coincides with the HubSpot survey of salespeople which agreed that changing preferences is a sales disruptor. In particular, one of them wrote this:

“There’s a generational change away from personal service and direct communication fed by a growing preference for technology—not people.”

In today’s generation, marketing efforts would take the front side while salespeople would take a back seat in defining the sales revenue of a company. For customers, this is reflected in the related ranking of trusted information as presented in the chart below.


Source: HubSpot

Both business software and financial products are long term and weighty decisions to be undertaken by companies. In today’s environment, they are least likely to trust sales people compared to word-of-mouth, customer references and media articles. This means that the marketing strategy has to evolve into a multi channel approach to reach out to customers to build the sales momentum needed to break into the bigger playing leagues.

3) Team Work and Alignment
A targeted and effective marketing plan requires a process of discovery and detailed planning. Alchemise Consulting is the marketing expert in this field and we can help you to define a customized strategy to appeal to your target audience. For the financial sector, we recommend that the CMO and the CFO come to the table. The CMO can explain the organization’s target audience and the results of previous marketing campaigns.

Internally, Alchemise will also aid you to align your marketing and sales efforts. This has been the missing link in most companies which means that even the strongest marketing efforts go to waste. For instance, if your marketing effort results in a query in your webform, how long does it take for your sales people to contact them?


Source: HubSpot 

Alchemise will provide the strategy and the CFO would contribute the viewpoints of his counterparts from the client’s side. Based on the CFO’s input, we will refine the plan further for your consideration. We will not rest until we have an effective marketing strategy for your organization that fits your goal and budget. This can be achieved starting with a monthly budget of S$25,000.

See The Results In 6 Months
Our senior consultants will form the working team with your CMO and CFO to reach out to your target audience effectively and avoid the pitfalls. You will see actual results after 6 months and pull ahead of your competition. This will be an investment that will be worth your time and money.

By: Ong Kai Kiat – Alchemise Consulting Content Specialist – Singapore


Sales and Marketing Consultant

Capturing Strategic Opportunities in Singapore with Financial Services Talent



The economy in 2017 is now growing again and companies are capturing strategic opportunities in Singapore with financial services talent. We can remember how low oil prices wracked havoc on oil servicing companies and major banks which financed them, such as DBS and OCBC. This blow was in addition to the  unexpected Brexit  and the election of the Trump Presidency last year.

As Singapore is an open economy, these uncertainties weighed on the economic growth. In 2015, the Singapore economy grew by 1.9% which is the slowest since the global financial crisis of 2009. In 2016, the growth improved to 2.0%. In the first quarter of 2017 alone, the Singapore economy grew by 2.7% with the manufacturing and finance sector leading the way with 5% and 1.9% growth respectively.

Outside of this high level economic view, the surest sign that the Singapore economy is improving would be to take a look at the hiring patterns of the local banking industry. Financial institutions in Singapore added an additional 23,400 employees in 2016 which reflected their growing bullishness of the economy.

Talent War From Top Tier Banks
As the economy improves, banks would want to hire more talents to service their clients better. Top tier banks such as Standard Chartered and Citi hired 1,000 and 800 new employees respectively last year and we can expect further hiring this year.

As the senior management of a smaller financial institution, it is worrying when such top tier banks start to hire aggressively. Their headhunters are likely to target your best performing staff in both the relationship management and support functions. When key talents head for the door, especially if they are sales talent, people in the organization sit up and take notice.

PwC noted that the war for talent is more intense in Asia. 60% of Asian CEOs find it difficult to attract the required talent compared to 43% globally. 30% of CEOs had to delay or cancel a strategic initiative due to talent constraints. It would be next to impossible to capture emerging strategic opportunities as the economy recovers with these constraints.

Retention Strategies
The best strategy is to take active action to retain your best employees before they head for the exits. Here are three retention strategies for your consideration. As noted in the previous article (How a Business Growth Assessment can Unlock Your Hidden Potential), it takes a good nine months before you break even with the best ‘sprinter’ sales person.

1. Combine market salary rates with flexible work arrangement

The first step to retain your best employee is to recognize that compensation matters. The skillset of a good sales employee can easily be transferred to another financial organization. Therefore, it is vital that you review market rates periodically and inform your internal stakeholders the importance of at least matching the market rates.

Then again, if it is difficult to find the budget to match the market rates, you can work around this hard constraint by providing flexible work arrangements. Keep in mind that some of your best workers might work best at night to come up with creative solutions for your clients. A flexible work schedule that de-emphasizes a standard reporting time might work wonders in keeping your staff even if they are paid slightly below the market.

2. Engage your employees through training and career progression discussion

Skillful employees love challenges which stretch them beyond their current capacity. It is this commitment to personal and professional growth that sets them apart. This drive allows them to hit their sales target consistently. Beyond the monetary consideration, they are likely to be tempted by other offers when they feel that they are stagnant in their position.

Therefore, it is worthwhile to invest in your employees through consistent training and development so that they can excel beyond their current capacity. It should also be standard practice for managers of different levels to discuss career progression options. These career options should be mapped ahead of time and then tracked for its actual progression.


Source: Data-Ink

Take the time to point out the strength and weakness of his performance. Your staff will feel engaged and appreciated which would encourage them to stay for the long run.

Hiring Strategies
The best defence is offence. Instead of waiting of someone to poach your employees, you can start to poach someone else’s employees first. You can also hire if you deem that your firm is ripe for an expansion or if your firm is newly established in Singapore.

In these scenarios, instead of handing your job description to your headhunting firm, you might want to consider these two strategies to find the right talent for your firm.

1. Find Like Minded Individuals By Promoting Your Company’s Values

Birds of a feather flock together. If your company values high performance and high compensation, then make sure that it is clearly communicated in your company description. There are some high calibre employers who take a step further by commissioning flattering corporate videos.


Source: DBS 

For instance, DBS commissioned ‘DBS Sparks’, a Youtube Mini Series to enhance its corporate image. It portrays their young DBS relationship bankers as driven, professional, ambitious and yet have a heart of gold to help their clients through difficult periods.

DBS has also clearly defined their business as people driven with PRIDE (Purpose, Relationship Led, Innovative, Decisive and Everything Fun). As a result, DBS is able to attract high caliber talents consistently to power its pole position as the safest bank in Asia.

2. Develop a compelling Employee Value Proposition

In a competitive industry, employers can set themselves apart by defining their unique characteristics to their employees. For instance, DBS brand themselves as a fun place to work where employees get to experiment and discover solutions for their clients.


Source: eFinancialCareers

As a result of its consistent efforts at portraying and promoting such desirable workplaces, DBS has been named as the Best Employer in Singapore and Asia Pacific by Aon Hewitt. eFinancialCareers surveyed more than 2000 financial professionals in Asia and even then DBS emerged at number four despite competition from world class competition from the likes of J.P. Morgan, Google and Facebook.

Grabbing A Piece of The Pie By Moving Fast
As the Singapore economy expands, it is the fast movers which will gain larger slice of the pie. This is also a good time for new entrants to enter the market if they have unique products, connections or processes to make a difference in the market.

Besides the traditional hiring processes, you might want to hire professional sales and marketing on a contract basis who are remunerated on results. This would allow you to start your operations on the ground running instead of spending the months to get your team together. That’s all for now and until the next article, stay sharp!

For some more detailed insight on how you can best position yourself for a successful new market entry or expansion, contact us today for a strategy consultation.

New Market Development Strategy